THE 31st Philippine Airlines (PAL) Seniors Interclub golf team championships get underway on Wednesday with Canlubang defending its title against a retooled Luisita side.
The defending champions will miss the services of top gun Tommy Manotoc who is in the United States to watch son Gab take part in an NCAA tournament that coincides with the Interclub.
However, Canlubang hopes to fill the vacuum left by Manotoc with the entry of Abe Rosal and balikbayan Mike Preysler.
Rosal, a fixture in Canlubang’s regular team, will make his senior debut while Preysler, a contemporary of Manotoc and a former national player, has just returned from Spain.
A newcomer for Canlubang is Damasus Wong.
Returning for Canlubang are Dave Hernandez, Rolly Viray, Mari Hechanova, Abe Avena, Rene Unson and Zaldy Villa.
Fifteen-time champion Luisita has recruited four club champions to bolster its bid to end Canlubang’s two-year reign.
They are Rodel Mangulabnan of Royal Northwood and Orchard, Raffy Garcia of Forrest Hills, Edmund Yee of Valley Golf and Allan Alegre of Sun Valley.
The Tarlac-based club has retained Eddie Bagtas, Jinky Tuason, Benjie Sumulong and Chito Laureta.
Canlubang and Luisita will play the first round at the tree-lined Apo Golf Club before seeing action at the Rancho Palos Verdes in the next two rounds. Both teams return to Apo for the final round on Saturday, February 25.
Last year, Canlubang edged Luisita by five points to capture its ninth title in 11 years.
A total of 90 teams, including 51 from overseas, are taking part in the four-day event.
The field is divided into the Championship, Founders, Sportswriters and Friendship divisions. The 70th PAL Interclub Platinum sponsors are Mareco Broadcasting Network, A&E Networks Asia, RMN Networks, The Manila Standard, Fox Networks Group, Rolls-Royce, TV5, MasterCard, TFC and Business Mirror.
Major sponsors include Asian Air Safari, Airbus, Primax Broadcasting Network and Sabre Airline Solutions while Corporate sponsors are Baron Travel Corporation, Boeing, MX3, GE Aviation, Bombo Radyo Philippines, Asia Brewery, Tanduay Distillers, Sabre Airline Solutions and Tourism Promotions Board.
The donors are Shangri-La at The Fort, Trinity Insurance and Eton Properties.